Two new works by the Estonian master - the Hilliard Ensemble sing a prayer for peace,...
Andrew McGregor 2005
Is the Estonian master moving in a new direction in his seventies? He seems to be telling us as much in Lamentate. Yes, you'll hear some of the multi-layered string sonorities and meditative qualities that have become so familiar in Pärt's patented 'ancient-invades-modern' scores, and yet there's a new sense of dramatic power, and a dynamic scale and impatient urgency of communication that's compelling.
Pärt was looking at Anish Kapoor's immense sculpture 'Marsyas', named after the Greek satyr who was flayed alive after losing a musical contest with Apollo. Pärt felt as though he was looking at his own dead body, and had a strong sense that he was not yet ready to die...so what could he achieve in the time he had left to live?
On this evidence, a great deal. 'Lamentate' is a lament not for the dead but the living, struggling with the pain and hopelessness of the world. After a subterranean rumble, a sorrowful fanfare makes way for an ascent of the solo piano keyboard, and a shuddering orchestral climax that sets the tolling of alarm bells against a Mahlerian funeral march. After the work that precedes it (the Hilliard Ensemble's performance of 'Da pacem Domine', a gently rocking prayer for peace) the effect is doubly shattering. Impressive performances, a seductive ECM recording, and works that no-one with an interest in contemporary art and music can afford to miss.